Last night’s village board meeting

Settled in with a glass of Ravenswood cabernet and a bag of McDonald’s and watched what I could of the second meeting of the new New Paltz village board.

Some notes:

* The mayor needs to wear a mic. Maybe all the board members should wear one. Dungan speaks most of the time with what I would describe as a swallowed baritone and the acoustics in that room do not favor it. Otherwise, watching these things will be long evenings of “what the hell did he just say?” Zierler comes across clear. Gallucci and Osborn most of the time are O.K. Portier, on the other hand, has a soft voice and it fuzzes in and out. Why not do these broadcasts right, get the “studio” and the production values in order, and make this an inviting rather than a disinviting experience?

* Because of the acoustics, when two or three people speak at once the sounds collide like crazy and become indistinguishable from crowd noise. Again, individual mics might be the solution.

* The basic camera shot of the board had as its focal point, dead center in the foreground, the bald head of that otherwise strikingly handsome attorney, whose name I am having trouble recalling. (And on camera, from that angle, the lovely village clerk resembles Julia Louis-Dreyfus, though a much younger version, of course. The camera likes her, even if it likes no one else.)

* There was a long discussion about who could use the village hall for meetings. At the end of the day, the board should always retain the right to grant use of the village hall at its “sole and absolute discretion,” whatever general requirements it lays down. An objection by any member of the board would suffice to deny any group use of the premises unless any other member of the board asked that it be put to the full board. You don’t want to establish a precedent where a set of abstract qualifications open the doors to some neo-Nazi or racist group that can then turn around and sue the village for unequal treatment if they are rejected under an otherwise open policy. (Since I was briefly distracted during that discussion, what I’m recommending might already be the case making the issue moot.)

* The agenda for the meeting posted at the village website was for a meeting that took place in 2006.

* I’m not sure about this, but is there some appropriate level of ordinary casual dress that might ever so informally apply to members at the meeting of a duly elected governing body here in the inner American empire? I’m New Paltz enough to think that jeans and untucked shirts are O.K. But tie-dye kinda makes it look more like an outing to Chuck E. Cheese than the meeting of a government. I guess any kind of line like that needed to be drawn about 25 years ago, but then there is always the possibility of individual discretion.

* That glamourous debutante who chairs the environmental commission need not have publicly accused the DPW gang of maliciously mowing her sunflowers. Aren’t such conspiracies best dealt with through diplomatic backchannels? We do have backchannel communications in this town, don’t we?

* I await the traffic study shitstorm. Where is it? I hope when its time comes that the agenda at the village website isn’t for a meeting from a year ago. That’s the sort of thing that provokes me to actually attend these meetings, and I don’t think anyone wants a panic-attack prone writer entering a known claustrophobia-inducing village hall with an edge on about that rotten traffic study.

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